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Intel backs Dell in 'netbook' trademark battle

Chip giant takes on Psion Teklogix

Intel has joined Dell and other companies in an attempt to free the term 'netbook' from the clutches of PC maker Psion Teklogix.

In a legal filing earlier this month, Intel asked the court to cancel a trademark for the term netbook', which is held by Psion. The term should not be a trademark as it is now being widely used to describe a new category of small, low-cost laptops that run basic applications, Intel said.

Psion was awarded a trademark for the term in 2000. The company later issued cease-and-desist warnings to PC makers, bloggers and retailers warning them to stop using the term to describe products, according to Intel's court filing.

Intel additionally is asking to legally be allowed to use the term netbook. Intel has used that term many times in marketing its Atom chip, a low-power chip that runs most netbooks today.

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"Our view is that the term 'netbook' is a widely used generic term that describes a class of affordable computing devices, much like the term 'notebook' or 'ultra-mobile PC'. In order to continue to use the generic term 'netbook' we filed the case. We're asking for a decision to clarify that the use of 'netbook' does not infringe anyone's rights," Intel spokesman Chuck Mulloy said in an email.

Dell has also tried to remove Psion's stranglehold on the netbook term. It filed an appeal to cancel the netbook trademark with the US Patent and Trademark Office, for which judgement is pending.

The netbook category gained steam when Asus's Eee PC became an overnight sensation with its launch in October 2007. Asus' success caught the attention of PC makers, and netbooks are now offered by top vendors including HP, Dell, Acer and Lenovo. Shipments of netbooks totalled 10 million in 2008, and could double this year, IDC said.

Psion did not immediately respond to request for comment.


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